Texas Legislation Update

Dear Colleagues,

We are nearing the end of the Texas legislative session, and some of the bills we have followed have met their end. Some have potential, good or bad, and we will be diligent to watch for movement to the best of our ability.

HB661, the House version of the Interstate Medical Licensing Compact, is officially dead, but there is a possibility for SB190, the identical Senate companion, to be brought up.

SB1243, the drug donation bill, passed the Senate 31-0, but is sitting in the House Public Health Committee, chaired by Rep Myra Crownover. We have to keep asking them to bring it up for a committee hearing.

SB1813 would have protected physicians by allowing them to know their accusers (especially competitors) before the medical board. It was essentially gutted by amendments, rendering it useless. Sen Campbell opposed the amendments, but they were ultimately accepted and the bill passed.

HB3804 got a favorable hearing, support from TOMA and TMA in addition to AAPS, but was not brought up for a house vote in time for the deadline, so is officially dead. It was the Calendars committee that killed it. We will bring this back because it is extremely important as a protection for patients and doctors against intrusion by hospital administration into the practice of medicine. Many thanks to Dr. Roughneen, who testified for the bill!

SB538 could still come up for a house vote. It is the infectious disease control bill that has a lot of due process issues and is poorly constructed to address a true emergency. It grants broad powers to the Governor and peace officers.

HB179, sponsored by Rep Zedler, was another bill designed to protect physicians from vague and non-specific accusations by the medical board. It was sent to Locals and Consent and has not been scheduled for a vote.

HB2498 is a bill that already passed the House and will go to the Senate. It creates an interstate commission governing EMS and has some similarities to the physician licensing bill except that it also involves the certification of military personnel and addresses the transport of patients across state lines. It is purported to be limited to certifying EMS for hospitals on state borders but the bill itself includes references to statewide emergencies, which would be a very different situation.

HB2351 was a bill that would have allowed hospitals to write their own conflict of interest policy. It did not make it to the floor for a vote. Thank you to Andy Schlafly for his testimony against that bill!

HB2711 is also dead. It would have given EMT workers the power to involuntarily commit people to mental health facilities.

If I omitted anything, please reply to this email and let us know so I can add it to the bills we are watching. Thank you!


Sheila Page, DO

Texas Legislation Update: SB 1813 passes in committee; help stop HB 2351

SB 1813, which would end confidential complaints against physicians, passed by an overwhelming majority in the Texas Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Monday.  AAPS’s General Counsel personally testified in favor of this bill last week in Austin.  The Senate committee passed this good bill despite the unjustified opposition by the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association.  Thank you for your help in passing this good bill out of committee, and congratulations!

Meanwhile, we need your help to stop HB 2351, which is a handout to the hospital industry to make end-of-life decisions contrary to the recommendations of independent physicians, and contrary to the wishes of patients and their families.  In a classic example of allowing the fox to guard the henhouse, HB 2351 authorizes hospitals to write their own conflict-of-interest policies for themselves.

HB 2351 is scheduled for a vote by the full House on Thursday, so immediate calls to Texas House members are needed now!  Click here if you already know your House member’s name and here if you need to look it up.

Why would the legislature grant power to hospital administrators, who routinely grab millions of dollars in compensation for themselves from “nonprofit” hospitals, to decide for themselves what is ethical and what is not?  HB 2351 is a nightmare for the rights of patients and independent physicians.

HB 2351 gives no power to the patients.  Instead, HB 2351 has this provision that pretends to provide protection, when in fact it does the opposite by telling hospitals to:

prohibit consideration of a patient ’s permanent physical or mental disability during a review under that section unless the disability is relevant in determining whether a medical or surgical intervention is medically appropriate.

In other words, HB 2351 says that hospitals should not consider a physical or mental disability in deciding to end a patient’s life, unless the hospital wants to end someone’s life based on a perceived physical or mental disability.  Texas Right to Life joins AAPS in opposing this anti-patient bill.  AAPS’s motto has long been, “all for the patient.”

Please contact your legislator in the Texas House to urge him to vote “no” on HB 2351.  This is a bad bill that empowers hospitals to act unethically, and authorizes them to discriminate against disabled patients.  This bill would be a terrible setback to the practice of private, ethical medicine.

AAPS vs. Texas Medical Association At Hearing On Medical Board

SB 1813 would provide basic rights to physicians with respect to the medical board.  This good legislation would require the medical board to disclose to a physician a copy of the complaint against him, and the identity of experts used against him.  The right to confront one’s accuser is an essential part of fairness in a civilized society.  This would deter bad faith complaints against physicians.

AAPS’s General Counsel, Andy Schlafly, testified in favor this bill in Austin on Wednesday.  An earlier version of this bill passed by 147-0 in the Texas House a few years ago.  No one should have to defend against accusations made by an undisclosed nemesis who hides behind a veil of confidentiality.  Numerous Texas physicians have been victimized by confidential complaints filed against them, without being able to find out who the accuser was.

Yet there was the Texas Medical Association (TMA) at the hearing, testifying against this basic protection for physicians.  The TMA pretends to represent physicians, yet it testified against this right for physicians before the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution grants to murderers the right to confront their accusers, but some think that physicians cannot be trusted with that basic right.  Dentists receive a copy of any complaints filed with the dental board against them.  But hospitals want to deny this right to physicians.  So does a nursing group.  And the TMA testified on their side, rather than on the side of the rights of physicians, in opposing SB 1813 and trying to deny that basic right to you.

Is it any surprise that private medicine is declining, when medical societies like the TMA testify against basic rights for physicians?  Fortunately, AAPS stood up for your rights by testifying in support of you.  We have stood up for private medicine for more than 70 years, and will continue to defend private medicine for another 70 years – with your support.  

CLICK HERE to contribute to AAPS and help us continue

defending the independent practice of medicine.

Please call Senator Charles Schwertner, M.D., who is Chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, and let him know how much you support this bill.  Please also call and thank Vice Chairman Lois Kolkhorst for sponsoring SB 1813 to establish these basic rights for physicians.

Their contact information is:
Chairman Schwertner – 512-463-0105; Vice Chairman Kolkhorst – 512-463-0118